Recently I have been placed in a position to do a lot of “asking”. With my recent appointment to the board of directors for Jelani Girls Inc. , asking people for money or resources just comes with the job. But even in the past, I’ve had to learn to get comfortable with asking people for something, whether it was through my missions work with my church, something regarding my business, or as part of my outreach responsibilities in my role as a college recruiter. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from all of these experiences is that you’ll never know until you ask. [Click to tweet]
Many of us get uncomfortable when we have to ask people for things, especially when it comes to asking for money. I recently facilitated an open discussion with my fellow board members on last month’s fundraising call about what they perceive to be their greatest stumbling blocks to fundraising, and the number one reason given was fear of rejection. And I totally get it. People work hard for their money and unfortunately, because there are so many scams out there, it’s understandable why many people can be tight-fisted when it comes to parting with their cash, even if it appears to be for a good cause. But my motto when it comes to these matters is simply this: “The worst they can say is ‘no’.”
So if you’re one of those people who want to shake your fundraising jitters, this post is definitely for you. Keep reading for a few quick and dirty tips on how to ease into the “ask” so that you can maximize your chances of actually getting what you need.
But my motto when it comes to these matters is simply this: “The worst they can say is ‘no’.”
Avoid cold asks with no follow up.
This is particularly important if you don’t already have an existing relationship with the person. You don’t want to come off as just another spammy solicitor. So whether it’s by email, phone call, or a direct mail piece, be sure to follow up and ask for a meeting or a few minutes of their time for a brief phone conversation to further explain the purpose of your request. In many cases, it’s been my experience that people are more willing to donate when they are given the opportunity to ask more questions and actually meet the person who is requesting their resources and support.
Make it personal.
Before you “ask”, make sure you gather information about your potential donors ahead of time. Get to know them. What types of philanthropic endeavors are they most interested in? Do they have a history of giving large amounts of financial contributions to charity? What are they passionate about? Do they work for or have significant ties with other organizations that are looking to invest in, or give their money to causes such as yours? Once you gather this information, use it in your pitch to customize your message. For example, you could say something like, “Dear Mr. Brown, Your extensive history of giving to causes that support educational initiatives in our community has not gone unnoticed…” Make them feel special and appreciated for their dedication and support.
Give alternative options to contribute.
While your fundraising goal may be $1000, some of your potential donors may not be in a position to give that much up front, for various reasons. Avoid fast “no’s”, by mixing it up a little and giving them some alternative ways of donating. If you can see that they are willing to give, but may be hesitant to give the amount that you’re asking, adjust your “ask” and see if they would either be willing to donate the full amount, but in increments, or lower your “ask” completely to a more reasonable amount that will still keep you on track to reach your goal. Avoid, if possible, saying “Or whatever you can give.” You need to be careful with this language, particularly if you’ve been given a pretty ambition goal and timeline for reaching it. This could put you further behind in meeting your goal if you were expecting a donation of around $50-$75 and only walked away with $10 because you carelessly lowered the integrity of your “ask”.
These are just a few tips that have worked for me. Now it’s your turn!
Any other champion fundraisers out there? Sound off in the comments with your best tips!